Not many players have their own customised driver, but ever since Bubba Watson launched his "Bubba & Friends: Drive to a Million" campaign at the 2012 Farmers Insurance Open he's become associated with a pink headed driver.
That original pink Ping G20 driver helped him raise money over $1.3m. So when the Ping G driver came out, their Vice-President Sports Development, Chance Cozby and Head PGA Tour Rep Christian Pena knew that a pink version would be on the menu.
When I was at Ping HQ in Arizona they told the story behind the new look, made exclusively for Bubba, and the crucial role played in its creation by Ping CEO John Solheim.
Chance Cozby: Everyone knows that he plays a pink driver. If you haven’t heard that story it was several years ago that Bubba asked John Solheim if he played a pink driver and we have some sort of charity aspect to it, would that be something that Ping would consider doing. It took us about 8 or 9 months to get our heads around what that would look like and the pink driver has lived on from that point.
When Bubba tested the G driver for the first time at the Bridgestone event in Akron his driver was black as we didn’t have any pink ones at that stage and he had a vision for what he wanted the driver to look like. His original request was for the head to be pink and to make the Dragonfly white and the Vortec white so we made a prototype like that.
We took that up to John before we showed it to Bubba and he didn’t care for it and said the white parts are going to look a lot better black or a dark charcoal. So we went back to the drawing board and produced the driver and when Bubba came to test it he took the head cover off and said he thought he’s asked for white, so we had to tell him that had been vetoed from the top so now it was black!
We actually showed him the un-built white version and at that point he said “Yes, John is right, the black looks a lot better”. His testing with the G driver has been very good so that will be in his bag at the start of 2016.
Christian Pena: Bubba's grip is approximately 10° open so every time he sets the club down he likes it to be quite a bit open. We also added another layer of tape under the grip so he is now 11 layers under the lower hand and 13 under the upper hand. He just doesn’t want the ball to turn over – he can turn it over whenever he needs to – but he wants to see that big cut, right to left for him, so the driver is set up for that.
It is a 9° head which is actually measured at 8° and then moved down another 0.6° using the adjustable hosel. It has a D4 swing weight with a Grafalloy Bi-Matrix-X, 44.5 inch shaft tipped 0.5 inches.
Having worked with all of the players on Tour he is by far the most talented in being able to do things with the golf balls that other guys just can’t do and he does it in the course of tournament play.
I’ve seen guys mess around on the driving range and try to hit all the big draws, cuts, low and high, but Bubba does it in tournaments when he doesn’t have to but it is what he sees in his brain as the best shot and he can just execute it.
I was actually playing with him and some people who had won a competition to play with him and we reached a par 3 of about 165 and he got up to the tee and he had brought the wrong club, one club too much, but instead of going back he just got in his chip stance and hit a little chipped hooked 9 iron that moved 20 yards left to right in the air and he made it for a hole in one.
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